Office of Pre-Primary Education and Childcare


Follow us on FacebookFollow us on Twitteryoutube

Member Login

Member and Library Subscriber Article Drop-down Menus


Atsushi Ukito: My reflections on being a male teacher of infants and toddlers

By Atsushi Ukito
© ChildForum


Atsushi men in ECE articleI have worked as an infant and toddler teacher for 11 years in New Zealand after emigrating from Japan in 1999. Before then I had been a waiter, truck driver, kitchen hand, flower shop assistant, door to door sales man, and music teacher.

When I arrived in New Zealand I decided that I would like to have a career as an early childhood teacher.


My struggle to define and find myself as a male teacher

I knew before I started early childhood teacher training that there were not many men working in this field. Still I must admit I was shocked to find that there were as few men as there were. In teacher training I was the only male student.

I was told that I was: "brave". I was congratulated: "good on you". I was noticed as not fitting with the characteristic of early childhood students: "how nice to have a male in the course". I understand why everyone reacted to me like this – it is because traditionally this is seen to be women’s work.

This early overwhelming attention extended to giving many interviews to reporters and others about being a male in ECE. While I have helped in efforts to promote ECE to men, I have always seen myself as a teacher first and not as someone who is special for being male. So I have had my own inner struggle between my view of my role as a teacher and society’s view of me as someone who breaks the stereotype of who can be an early childhood teacher.

Furthermore, I have had difficulty relating to the stories of other male teachers who have discussed the male attributes they bring to their work with children. For example, it is often said that men bring more active movement, entertainment, and rough and tumble play to children’s learning. But during my early childhood teaching career I have spent most of my time with babies and toddlers and I believe for this age group that the priority is not rough and tumble play or being a man.

I have wondered whether men who work with infants play different roles to women. I still don’t know if I should be doing something differently because I am male.

The reality is that men who work with infants are even rarer so I don’t have any role models to look to, and there’s not a lot of literature focussed on men’s work with this age group.

To keep reading, login with your member's username and password

Here’s how our membership plans work

  • Individual Members can view all the individual member-only articles and our library of Research Journals.
  • Full Early Childhood Service Members (staff and managers) can view everything including individual member articles, ECE research journals, and management and business (Go to the Join Us page for more details) 
  • Research Library subscribers have access only to our online library of Research Journals (this includes all past and current journal issues).

If you are not yet a member you are welcome to apply now - it takes only a few minutes to apply Smile Go to the JOIN US page 

Free E-Newsletter

Receive the free Early Childhood Alert.


We hate spam as much as you, we will not sell your contact details to anyone.

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Read our Privacy Policy here.

Don’t miss out any longer, click the button below to join ChildForum

Join Us!



Subscribe now for information you can trust, expert advice and research, as well as access to quality resources

We are confident you will be delighted to discover and experience the benefits of membership - so join now and make this message for non-members disappear from your screen. 

Membership Options


Who is this for?
Any person who has an interest in early childhood education and care or who works directly with children.

$98.00 12 months from the date of joining
$60.00 6 months student-only

The membership belongs to you, and you only. Enjoy your own personal username and password.

ECE Service Organisation

Who is this for?
Centres, home-based, hospital-based, playgroups ... established or newly licensed. Gives access to professional & research materials enjoyed by individual members PLUS service operation and management area. 

$198.00 12 months for a standalone licensed service
Special rates for organisations with more than 1 licence

The membership belongs to your whole organisation, team members and managers.

Library NZ-International Research
in ECE Journal Subscriber

Who is this for?
Universities, Polytechnics and organisations wishing to have online access to the NZ-Int Research in ECE journal (includes all past and current issues) 

$125.00 annual subscription, renewable in November each year

A username and password for your library users linked to your IP address.